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Failure, Quan Yin, chant

Many years ago, some weeks into a two-month meditation retreat, I landed in something anyone who has stayed with a practice over time knows is inevitable: I was having a Very Hard Time. I was wilting in the face of an overwhelming doubt and sense of failure. Eventually, I sat in an interview with my teacher Jack and admitted that …

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“You are the music while the music lasts”: Improvisation, practice, silence, research

  There is a Zen riddle that replies to its own question. ‘Does a dog have the Buddha nature?’ the riddle asks. ‘Answer either way and you lose your own Buddha nature.’  Faced with a mystery about divinity, according to the riddle, we must always hover, uncertain, between the two possible answers. Never, on pain of losing our own divinity, …

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